Tag Archives: veterans

Moosehorn Hooks in Veterans

The sun shined bright for veterans on Tuesday, June 12th as family, friends, and fish gathered to celebrate the Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine. Service volunteers joined forces with the Maine Veterans’ Home, the Cobscook Bay State Park, the Maine Warden Service and the Friends of Moosehorn to provide a day’s worth of fishing and recreation.


Friends and family spend the day fishing with U.S. Veterans at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine, for the Service’s Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day.

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 30,000 acres of federally protected lands in eastern Maine including rolling hills, large ledge outcrops, streams, lakes, bogs, and marshes. Peggy Sawyer, Moosehorn Administrative Assistant and Annual Veterans Fishing Day volunteer confidently commented, “Lesson learned: sun shining on the water, a fishing rod and a hungry fish can soothe a troubled spirit and make a heart smile.”


A U.S. Veteran sits by a toddler whom is fishing at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge (NWF) for the Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day.

Sawyer, though not a fan of recreational fishing or freshwater fish in general, expressed that, “The simple pleasure of reeling in a fish and the anticipation of fresh trout for supper lit their faces with smiles. I even heard a few belly laughs! Whether they came to fish, or just to get some fresh air and feel the sun, they made new memories however fleeting.”


A young man and a U.S. Navy Seal Veteran bait a hook to fish at the Refuge.

Volunteers, family, and friends gathered worms, baited hooks, and casted lines for the men and women who are now veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Refuge manager Keith Ramos commented, “Getting to spend a day with men and women who served our country is a great honor and privilege.”


Joe McBrine, Maine Game Warden, smiles, holding a fish in hand, kneeling beside a giddy senior whom is fishing at the Refuge.

USFWS volunteer Tabitha Ramos commented, “Many of these men and women had not been able to fish in years. One gentleman said the last time he picked up a pole was 60 years ago. Many haven’t fished due to access and mobility, so together USFWS and the State made it possible for them to fish for the day.”

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit the USFWS Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge home page for more information. If you’re interested in getting involved, the ‘Get Involved’ page is available to learn ways in which you can help now.



Fishing with veterans teaches life long lessons

Josie is spending her summer working at the Barrett Fishway on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts, counting fish that pass through and head upstream. Photo credit: USFWS

Josie is spending her summer working at the Barrett Fishway on the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts, counting fish that pass through as they head upstream. Photo credit: USFWS

Today we continue our recognition of National Fishing and Boating Week with a personal story from Josie Cicia. Josie is a longtime volunteer with the Service, dedicating much of her free time to helping those who dedicated their lives to protecting our country: U.S. military veterans. Read how Josie’s work with the veterans fishing program at the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station helped shape decisions in her life.

I grew up living next door to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, Massachusetts. Throughout my childhood my older sister and I would venture down to the station on a regular basis, exploring the world and work that surrounded us there.

Cronin Vet Fishing Program2_2015

Volunteers are a critical part of the veterans fishing program. Photo credit: Jennifer Lapis, USFWS

I was always so interested in everything that happened at the station. When I was about five years old my mom started to let me walk down and visit by myself. I felt so fortunate and privileged to live right across the street from this fascinating facility. When the station was active in the Atlantic salmon restoration program, the manager, Micky Novak, always welcomed me (along with anyone else) with open arms. I grew up learning about the station, and the important conservation work that happened there.

I volunteered at the station for 13 years. The station wasn’t just a place for me to go to, it became part of my life, and it was my second home.

Volunteering at the station introduced me to many Service programs. But the one program that stood out for me the most was the Wounded Veterans Fishing Program, held once a month throughout the summer at Veteran’s Pond on the station’s property.  I am so thankful to Micky for introducing me to the program and giving me the chance to became part of this invaluable opportunity offered to the veterans who have sacrificed and served our country.


Cronin Vet Fishing Program_2015_close up

Getting outside to enjoy a day of fishing is the highlight of many veterans’ week. Photo credit: Jennifer Lapis, USFWS

Working with veterans is an honor. They fought to keep our country safe, and now I get to help them have fun and enjoy time outside fishing, socializing and having a cook out. One of my favorite parts of spending time with the veterans is when they share their stories with me. Their stories have actually influenced some of the choices I’ve made for my own life.

Volunteering wasn’t just a passing interest to me. It became part of everything I did. It was so important to me that I would bring my friends along to the program to share this wonderful experience with them.  I liked to tell them that volunteering is more than just a good experience. It makes you feel so much better because you are honoring veterans who live in nursing homes, by helping them fish and enjoy time being outside. My closest friend used to always say “you don’t know Josie until you’ve seen her working down at the salmon station.”

Vet Holding Fish

One participant shows off his big catch of the day. Photo credit: USFWS

When I first learned that the station was no longer going to be active in Atlantic salmon restoration, I was scared and sad that the veterans fishing program might also come to an end. But much to my relief, the program is continuing this year, as it has every year since Micky held the first event in 1992.

I am now 19 years old, and just finished my first year at college. I still continue to volunteer at the veterans fishing program because it is an amazing opportunity. We just held the first event of this year, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It is hard to describe the feeling of happiness and sincerity I felt being back at the pond getting ready for all the veterans to come and reunite with all the other volunteers who have watched me grow up.

Cronin Vet Fishing Program_2015_rock2

This plaque, located at the edge of Veteran’s Pond, honors all those who served in the armed forces and dedicated their lives to protecting our country’s freedoms. Photo credit: Jennifer Lapis/ USFWS

The veterans fishing program helped me realize that I want to go to school to study environmental science. It has shown me how important it is to protect wildlife and the natural environment around us. I often talk with some of the veterans and volunteers about how the environment has changed so much in their lifetime. Hearing their stories always makes me sad, which has helped me to realize what I want to study in college. The environmental field has so much to offer. I plan to someday, continue my volunteer journey and show younger generations how important it is for all of us.

National Fishing and Boating Week

USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Connecting Veterans with Nature

Memorial Day weekend is the gateway to summer — when long, warm days call us outdoors to appreciate the wonders of nature through hunting, fishing, hiking, and dozens of other recreational pursuits. But more importantly, it is a time for remembering the contributions of our nation’s veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made to protect our country. Throughout the Northeast Region, many U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field stations provide special opportunities to connect veterans with nature as a way to honor their public service. Here are a couple of examples.


Terry Henry, a Vietnam veteran of the Air Force displays a handsome brook trout he caught from a pond at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Richard Cronin National Salmon Station. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard, USFWS

Since its start in 1992, the Veterans Fishing Program at Cronin National Salmon station in Sunderland, Mass. has served more than 5,000 wounded veterans. The program, run in partnership with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Soldiers Home of Holyoke, provides an opportunity for wounded veterans to socialize, enjoy the outdoors and learn about fishing.

Retired hatchery manager and Vietnam veteran Micky Novak developed the program as a way to give back to the community and make connections with local veterans. Once a month, veterans come to the hatchery to fish in the pond stocked with trout from federal and state run hatcheries. The program also has attracted local veterans who volunteer at the events, helping participants fish and lending a friendly ear and smile.

At Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md., veterans participate in the “Wounded Warrior” turkey hunt, which the refuge has hosted for nearly a decade. During this year’s hunt on May 7, volunteers from the National Wild Turkey Foundation and Meade Natural Heritage Association helped support the hunt on the refuge’s North Tract — and helped four out of five hunters harvest a turkey. Afterward, the veterans were treated to lunch donated by a local vendor.


Veterans celebrate a successful day at the May 7 Wounded Warriors turkey hunt at Patuxent Research Refuge. (Credit: USFWS)

“The veterans who participate in the hunt are very happy to have the opportunity — it doesn’t matter whether they are successful or not,” said Refuge Manager Brad Knudsen. “This year was one of the most successful hunts we’ve had, but they are just glad to be back in the woods getting connected — or reconnected — to the outdoors.”

This weekend we honor and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and all those who have served and continue to serve to protect the nature of America.